Tag Archives: American Bar Association

Belarus authorities may disbar another lawyer defending political prisoner

14/10/21

The Belarusian Justice Ministry has launched a disciplinary investigation against the well-known lawyer Natallya Matskevich.

She was suspended from work, Alyaksandr Dzyadok, the father of political prisoner Mikalai Dzyadoktold Radio Svaboda.

Until now, Natallya Matskevich, a member of Minsk City Bar Сouncil, has been a defence lawyer of Mikalai Dzyadok who reported his being tortured by police. She was also involved in political trials, defending Lukashenka’s opponents and might-have-been presidential candidates Viktar Babaryka and Syarhei Tsikhanouski.

According to Alyaksandr Dzyadok, taking such steps is nothing but deliberately depriving people of their right to protection.

“The question of revoking her [Matskevich’s] license is looming. As a result, my son has a legal disaster – it is the second time that he has been left without protection during the judicial investigation: earlier, they stripped [lawyer] Yauhen Maslau of his license, now Natallya Matskevich is facing the same threat. A week ago, she was still allowed to visit the son in the pre-trial detention centre on Valadarski Street; she was about to see him yesterday [on Tuesday], but we have come across the problem,” the man said.

As reported earlier, since the beginning of post-election protests in 2020, the Justice Ministry’s Qualification Commission have terminated the licenses of many Belarusian lawyers who were involved in defending citizens prosecuted on political grounds. Over the past months, political prisoner Maryia Kalesnikava’s defence lawyers Alyaksandr Pylchanka and Lyudmila Kazak have been disbarred. In addition, the Belarusian authorities forced out of the profession Kanstantsin Mikhel, Mikhail Kirilyuk, Maksim Konan, Uladzimir Sazanchuk (the latter defends politician Mikalai Statkevich, blogger Zmitser Kazlou and was one of Katsyaryna Andreyeva’s lawyers), Anton HashynskiSyarhei Zikratski. The Belarusian State University (BSU) decided not to re-sign the employment contract with Alena Layeuskaya, a civil law teacher at the Faculty of Law and mother of Babaryka’s lawyer Dzmitry Layeuski.

Belarus authorities may disbar another lawyer defending political prisoner

https://charter97.org/en/news/2021/10/13/440389/

https://abaruleoflaw.blogspot.com/2021/05/the-critical-role-of-belarusian-lawyers.html

https://ej.by/news/sociaty/2021/10/13/teper-natalya-matskevich-esche-odnogo-advokata-sobirayutsya-lishit.html (BELARUSIAN)

https://belsat.eu/news/13-10-2021-yashche-adnago-advakata-pa-palitychnyh-spravah-adhilili-ad-pratsy/

USA: Statement of ABA President Reginald Turner Re: Afghanistan

16/08/21

The American Bar Association is deeply saddened and concerned about the demise of the rule of law in Afghanistan as the Taliban takes control of the Afghan government and society.

We call on the United States and the rest of the international community to ensure the safety of the many people within Afghanistan who have worked tirelessly over the past 20 years to establish democracy and respect for the rule of law and human rights, including the judges, lawyers and law students who share our profession.

The ABA and all those committed to the rule of law condemn recent events that threaten the lives and liberty of millions of Afghanis.

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

[…]

https://www.americanbar.org/news/abanews/aba-news-archives/2021/08/aba-president-statement-re-afghanistan/

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/save-our-afghan-colleagues-urges-united-profession/5109538.article

https://www.jurist.org/news/2021/08/afghanistan-dispatches-i-personally-think-law-major-is-no-more-a-field-of-study-for-students-particularly-women/

https://www.avocatparis.org/afghanistan-le-barreau-de-paris-appelle-levacuation-des-civils-risque-pour-garantir-leur-protection (FRANCAIS)

Burma: Mandalay University law student sentenced to 3 years in jail

13/07/21

Image

https://www.myanmar-now.org/en/news/father-says-he-is-worried-about-health-of-detained-daughter

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/stress-07082021183938.html

https://abaruleoflaw.blogspot.com/2021/07/aba-president-patricia-refo-released.html

Pakistan: Lawyer wants to leave Pakistan after winning couple’s freedom

05/06/21

Lawyer wants to leave Pakistan after winning couple's freedom

‘I can’t survive anymore in my country,’ says Saiful Malook after the acquittal of a Christian couple on death row for blasphemy

A Pakistani lawyer who is globally recognized for defending the country’s beleaguered religious minorities in blasphemy cases has made an emphatic appeal to the international community to help him relocate to an English-speaking country.

“My message for the world. I can’t survive anymore in my country. I want to shift to some English-speaking country,” Saiful Malook tweeted late on June 3.

His tweet came hours after he had won the acquittal of Christian couple Shagufta Kausar and her husband Shafqat Emmaneul, who had been sentenced to death in 2014 on charges of sending blasphemous message from a mobile phone.

The lawyer was awarded the National Secular Society’s annual prize at its Secularism 2019 conference on May 29. The award was presented by the human rights barrister and NSS honorary associate Geoffrey Robertson QC.

In 2020, Malook was nominated by the International Observatory for Lawyers in Danger (OIAD) for the prestigious American Bar Association human rights award.

The OIAD is an institution of solidarity among lawyers whose goal is to provide judicial and material support. This project, co-financed by the European Union, was signed by the Italian National Bar Association, Conseil National des Barreaux, Spanish National Bar Association, and the Rome, Paris and Madrid Bars on April 22, 2016.

The purpose of the OIAD is to defend lawyers under threat and denounce situations in which the right to defense is put at risk. It will also track, through monitoring and all other available means, lawyers who are victim of threats, pressure, torture or any other kind of abuse.

Malook was also nominated for the Roosevelt Four Freedoms Award for his courage. He received a prestigious award from Britain’s National Secular Society in London.

https://www.ucanews.com/news/lawyer-wants-to-leave-pakistan-after-winning-couples-freedom/92741#

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2021/june/pakistan-christians-blasphemy-asia-bibi-shafqat-shaguftah.html

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/6/4/pakistan-court-acquits-christian-couple-of-blasphemy-charges

https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/cwn/2021/june/christian-couple-convicted-of-blasphemy-finally-gets-justice-after-pakistani-judge-acquits-case-nearly-8-years-later

Belarus: stop politically motivated prosecution and disbarment of lawyers

13/04/21

International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) | Page 2 | Prachatai English

Today, the ICJ called on the Belarus Ministry of Justice and other relevant authorities to end the recent practice of using legal proceedings against lawyers in retaliation for discharging their professional duties and to reinstate those already disbarred.

In recent months, in the context of widespread violations of the human rights of those protesting against the outcome of the disputed 2020 presidential election, there has been an unprecedented increase of cases of disbarment of lawyers especially those who comment on violations of the human rights of their clients. Among the most recently disbarred lawyers are Konstantin Mikhel, Maxim Konon, Mikhail Kirilyuk and Yulia Ivanchuk.

“This recent wave of criminal and disciplinary proceedings against lawyers is highly worrying and it constitutes an attack on the independence of the legal profession. These proceedings, be they of criminal, administrative or disciplinary nature, should be discontinued or reconsidered as being contrary to the international human rights law concerning the independence of the legal profession,” said Temur Shakirov, Senior Legal Adviser of the ICJ Europe and Central Asia Programme.

There is a clear pattern of the misuse of disciplinary proceedings against lawyers who represent political opponents of the government or those who openly criticize the government on issues of public significance.

Disciplinary proceedings in Belarus are not independent of the executive, since they are conducted by the Qualification Commission which operates under the Ministry of Justice.

Notably, disciplinary proceedings are pending against lawyer Dmitry Layevski, allegedly following his public comments on a pending Draft Law on advocates’ activities.

Dmitry Layevski is a lawyer representing Victor Babaryko, an opposition leader in Belarus currently in detention, and Maxim Znak, former legal representative of Maria Kolesnikova, another detained opposition leader.

Earlier, a number of lawyers, including Aleksandr Pylchenko, former legal representative of Viktor Babaryko and Maria Kolesnikova, and Lyudmila Kazak, former legal representative of Maria Kolesnikova, faced disciplinary sanctions, and Lyudmila Kazak incurred an administrative fine, as a result of discharging their professional functions.

Several lawyers involved in human rights cases have been called by the Qualification Commission to undergo an examination to re-certify their qualification to practice law and have failed the exam. This procedure appears to target lawyers working to defend human rights, as a means of harassment or reprisal.

[…]

https://www.ibanet.org/Article/NewDetail.aspx?ArticleUid=09fa9c9f-1e27-4e55-983c-3f4e112a569f

https://www.belhelcom.org/en/news/communication-un-special-rapporteurs-defense-belarussian-lawyers-2021

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maxim_Znak

https://ex-press.by/rubrics/obshhestvo/2021/02/15/nekorrektno-vyrazhalsya-o-predstavitelyax-gosorganov-advokata-mixaila-kirilyuka-xotyat-lishit-licenzii (BELARUSIAN)

Belarus: ‘There’s no justice in a dictatorship’: How a political crisis exposed Belarus’ rule of law problem

02/02/21

Personal archive

[…]

“I made remarks [to the press] on the unprecedented violence used by the police and security forces against peaceful protestors; on the state inaction in stopping violence; on the inaction of law enforcement in situations when there were clear grounds for initiating criminal investigations; on the powers of the law enforcement officials that could have been used to prevent violence and hold the perpetrators accountable,” Pylchenko told Euronews.

Pylchenko has been a lawyer in the Belarusian justice system for 30 years. But those fateful remarks have changed that.

Just before Christmas, the Ministry of Justice”s Qualification Commission held a hearing in which Pylchenko was disbarred.

But the 55-year-old is not the only within his industry to have been targeted.

Maxim Znak and Ilya Salei are the lawyers of prominent opposition figure Maria Kalesnikava, who had initially managed the election campaign of Viktor Babariko, who had wanted to challenge Lukashenko in the August presidential poll. But, when he was arrested before the election, stopping him from running, Kalesnikava joined forces with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. After the disputed vote, Kalesnikava was detained after refusing to leave the country.

Znak and Salei, like their client, were arrested, too, on the basis of “actions aimed at causing harm to the national security of the Republic of Belarus”. They are two of 187 people that human rights NGO Viasna (Spring) consider political prisoners.

‘No independent judges under a dictatorship’

While some may link the disbarring and arrests to a post-election crackdown on opposition to Lukashenko — which has seen protesters, journalists and even musicians targeted — others believe it exposes a long-term problem in Belarus.

“I do not think that we should use August as a starting point for these cases, similar episodes happened before,” said Kanstantsin Dzehtsiarou, a professor of human rights law at the University of Liverpool. “The trend is much broader than these three cases and although in many instances the authorities do not go as far as licence revocation there are plenty of examples of censorship, influence and hostility towards defence lawyers working in the so-called political cases.”

[…]

https://www.euronews.com/2021/02/02/there-s-no-justice-in-a-dictatorship-how-a-political-crisis-exposed-belarus-rule-of-law-pr

https://charter97.org/en/news/2021/2/18/411913/

China: ‘He Committed Ideological Crimes’: Wife Recounts How Chinese Police Suppress the Family, Preventing Them From Speaking Out and Threatening Her Job After Human Rights Lawyer Chang Weiping’s Detention

15/02/21

My husband Chang Weiping (常玮平) is a Chinese human rights lawyer, who has represented clients in cases related to religious freedom, forced demolition and discrimination (HIV, gender and LGBT issues). In January 2020, he was placed under Residential Surveillance at a Designated Location (RSDL) by Shaanxi police for 10 days for attending the Xiamen Meeting, [an informal gathering of some twenty activists and lawyers in early December 2019]. He was subjected to severe torture before being released on bail. On October 22, 2020, he was again detained in RSDL for ‘allegedly inciting subversion of state power’.

The Spring Festival of 2021 is fast approaching. Chang Weiping has been held in RSDL for 112 days this second time around. The Shaanxi police has been investigating his case for one year and 20 days.

I think it is necessary to make a record of everything he and his family have been through in the past year. Although our lives are as insignificant as ants, we will NOT stop exposing the truth.

I. Disaster strikes after a meeting

It was around December 27, 2019, when Weiping called me out of the blue. He said anxiously that some of his friends had been arrested for attending a meeting in Xiamen and that he, who also attended the meeting, had to go into hiding. He said he had sent me all his bank cards. He told me to take care of myself and our family and hung up after saying “love you.” After about ten days of hiding, he called me saying that it seemed to be safe and since he had not done anything, perhaps he should come out from hiding. I told him to wait a little longer. Little did I know that just two days later, on January 12, 2020, he would be also taken into custody. The nightmare began.  

On the morning of January 14, 2020, someone from Gaoxin Branch of Baoji Public Security Bureau (陕西省宝鸡市公安局高新分局) called me and informed me that Chang Weiping had been placed under RSDL on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power.”

[…]

https://www.csw.org.uk/2021/02/08/press/4974/article.htm

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/lawyers-licenses-02152021101423.html

https://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/trend-lines/29366/amid-a-crackdown-on-human-rights-china-increasingly-targets-lawyers

https://www.voanews.com/east-asia-pacific/voa-news-china/family-detained-chinese-rights-lawyer-silenced-threats-sources-say

https://www.chinaaid.org/2021/01/xie-yang-and-chen-keyun-human-rights.html

https://www.maravipost.com/chinese-govts-crackdown-against-human-rights-lawyers/

https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/profile/chang-weiping#:~:text=Chang%20Weiping%20(%E5%B8%B8%E7%8E%AE%E5%B9%B3)%20is%20a%20human%20rights%20lawyer,gender%20identity%20and%20sexual%20orientation.

Azerbaijan: Disbarred, suspended, or criminally prosecuted: Azerbaijani human rights lawyers (updated)

January 2021

This list has been compiled by the European Human Rights Advocacy Centre (EHRAC) on the basis of publicly available reports from international human rights organisations and information from partner lawyers in Azerbaijan.

In the years following the 2014 crackdown on civil society in Azerbaijan and the criminal prosecution of NGO and human rights defenders, human rights lawyers who took up these and other ‘politically sensitive’ cases have been subjected to severe retaliation by the authorities, which has sometimes resulted in the suspension of their licences and even disbarment.

Disciplinary proceedings have been brought against human rights lawyers in response to their legitimate exercise of the right to freedom of expression: for publicising human rights violations perpetrated against their clients in detention, or for disclosing instances of the abusive administration of justice in their clients’ cases. As a result, over a dozen Azerbaijani lawyers have been deprived of the opportunity to practise their profession, and over two dozen have been targeted by the Azerbaijani authorities since 2005.

In January 2020, in its first case relating to the disbarment of a lawyer in Azerbaijan, the European Court of Human Rights (European Court) found a violation of the right to a private life (Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights) in the case of Elchin Namazov, who was disbarred in the absence of adequate procedural safeguards in disciplinary proceedings brought against him. The Court found that the domestic courts had failed to assess the proportionality of the sanction.[1]

Khalid Bagirov is another prominent human rights lawyer who was first suspended in 2011 after he made comments about the suspicious death of his client in police custody. He was later permanently disbarred in 2015 for criticising Azerbaijan’s judicial system during a trial which concerned a domestic court’s failure to implement the European Court’s judgment in the case of Ilgar Mammadov, an opposition politician whose arrest was found to be politically motivated.

In June 2020, the European Court ruled that Azerbaijan’s suspension and disbarment of Bagirov was in breach of his freedom of expression (Article 10 of ECHR) and right to a private life. The Court ordered the Azerbaijani Government to ensure the “maximum possible reparation” for Khalid Bagirov, “and [that] they should put the applicant, as far as possible, in the position in which he had been before his disbarment.”[2]

[…]

https://lso.ca/gazette/news/day-of-the-endangered-lawyer

(ITALIANO)

https://www.ansa.it/emiliaromagna/notizie/2021/01/24/giornata-dellavvocato-minacciato-webinar-a-bologna_174ad9d3-6dcb-4f3e-9f7a-a004313856d9.html

https://www.iurastudent.de/blogeintrag/elsa-deutschland-ev-zum-day-endangered-lawyers (DEUTSCH)

https://www.nporadio1.nl/fris/onderwerpen/71251-2021-01-24-dag-van-de-bedreigde-advocaat-ook-in-nederland-erg-actueel (NEDERLANDS)

Australia/Azerbaijan etc: Day of the Endangered Lawyer 2021

23/01/21

Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) calls on all countries, including Australia, to ensure that lawyers are able to perform their professional obligations without fear of retribution. 

On 24 January 2021, the 11th Day of the Endangered Lawyer, lawyers across the world are given a specific opportunity to reflect on the grave infringement of human rights experienced by some of our colleagues, and to advocate for systemic change in their treatment. ALHR finds it highly concerning that lawyers risk danger for upholding the human rights of others and protecting vulnerable clients. 

ALHR President Kerry Weste said “ALHR gives thought to the many human rights lawyers around the world who remain in prison or are at risk for simply doing their job and attempting to carry out their duties in line with international standards. Unfortunately, this now includes Australian lawyers facing prosecution for performing their duties.

[…]

In 2021 the global focus of the Day of the Endangered Lawyer is on the experiences of lawyers in Azerbaijan. Serious human rights violations have affected Azerbaijani lawyers who represent the victims of human rights violations and have spoken up about torture and ill-treatment in police custody. Lawyers who assisted in bringing the cases of human rights defenders to the European Court of Human Rights have been disbarred or even detained on various charges. The Azerbaijani authorities have failed to respect the rights of lawyers by not adequately enabling them to perform their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference. Furthermore, the Azerbaijani authorities have failed to take substantive steps to uphold the right to a fair trial and to guarantee that every citizen has effective access to justice and legal assistance of their choice.”

“ALHR calls on all countries to comply with the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers and ensure that lawyers can act in accordance with the law and without improper interference or persecution,” Ms Weste said. 

https://lso.ca/gazette/news/day-of-the-endangered-lawyer

https://www.americanbar.org/news/abanews/aba-news-archives/2021/01/statement-of-aba-president-patricia-lee-refo-re–international-d/

(FRANCAIS)

https://www.consiglionazionaleforense.it/web/cnf-calendario/-/748260 (ITALIANO)

https://www.camerepenali.it/cat/10789/xi%C2%B0_giornata_internazionale_dellavvocato_minacciato_2021_focus_azerbaigian.html

(TURKCE)
No photo description available.
No photo description available.

Belarus: Belarusian Lawyers Describe Living in a Soviet-Era Nightmare

16/01/21

With their nation enveloped by winter and snow, Belarusian protesters and pro-democratic opposition forces seeking to bring down the brutal regime of Alexander Lukashenko are preparing for a new season of mass protests.

In interviews with Courthouse News, Belarusian lawyers opened a window into the state of affairs this winter in a European nation still suffering the kind of repression that marked Europe’s Soviet past. 

They spoke about the use of torture and police violence, severe political oppression, absurd trials and arrests, pervasive state surveillance, state intimidation, a diaspora of dissidents and the need for a complete overhaul of Belarusian politics and laws.

[…]

“There is universal jurisdiction,” said Natalia Matskevich, a Minsk lawyer representing pro-democratic figures targeted by the government. “Cases involving victims of torture can be opened in other countries because torture is forbidden by international human rights law.”

[…]

Viasna, the human rights center, says it has collected more than 1,000 testimonies of torture victims in 2020. More than 33,000 people were detained and most saw jail time and were ordered to pay high fines, according to Viasna.

“Work is also something that saves us from depression because it is better to work and be in the process than to observe this process from the outside,” Matskevich said in a video link from Minsk, speaking through a translator.

Both Loika and Matskevich said they face harassment and punishment for their work in Belarus.

Matskevich said fellow lawyers who sided with opposition figures have had their licenses revoked and she fears the same could happen to her. One lawyer, a friend of hers, was kidnapped by men in plain clothes, held incommunicado for 20 hours and placed under house arrest. Another lawyer has been in jail for several months, she said. 

“It’s not pleasant to work when other attorneys have had their licenses revoked,” she said.

“The situation is quite grim at the moment,” Dzehtsiarou said. He said the Belarusian Bar Association is not an independent body and doesn’t defend lawyers as they should. “They mostly act as a governmental body that even tries to censor what lawyers are saying.”

A case in point is that of Alexander Pylchenko, a prominent lawyer and former chairman of the Minsk City Bar Association who was disbarred after he denounced the violence used against protesters. 

His clients included Viktor Babariko, a former Belarusian banker who was imprisoned after entering the presidential campaign, and Maria Kolesnikova, Babariko’s campaign manager. She was kidnapped and arrested when she led protests against Lukashenko following the August elections. Both Babariko and Kolesnikova remain behind bars.

On Oct. 16, Pylchenko was disbarred by the Ministry of Justice on the basis of comments he made to a popular Belarusian news outlet, Tut.By, in the wake of the elections when security forces used stun grenades and rubber bullets against protesters, a first in Belarusian history, and scores of demonstrators came out of jails saying they’d been beaten and tortured.

[…]

https://www.americanbar.org/groups/human_rights/reports/belarus-disbarment/

https://golosadvokata.ru/events/beldisc/eng

https://www.fidh.org/en/issues/human-rights-defenders/belarus-arbitrary-arrest-and-judicial-harassment-of-human-rights

https://www.hrw.org/europe/central-asia/belarus

https://www.facebook.com/ViasnaHumanRights/

(DEUTSCH)